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Fire destroys Riverton home

A 19-year-old, his friend and his dog are safe - and a mother is thankful - after a smoke detector woke him up in his Riverton home Easter Sunday. Austin Brown, 19, and his friend Dakota Cranfill, 19, Crosby, were sleeping in separate rooms of a ...

Firefighters cut a hole in the roof and then spray water inside at a house fire Easter Sunday in Riverton. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video)
Firefighters cut a hole in the roof and then spray water inside at a house fire Easter Sunday in Riverton. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video)
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A 19-year-old, his friend and his dog are safe - and a mother is thankful - after a smoke detector woke him up in his Riverton home Easter Sunday.

Austin Brown, 19, and his friend Dakota Cranfill, 19, Crosby, were sleeping in separate rooms of a residence on the 21000 block of Second Avenue in Riverton just after 5:30 p.m. when it started on fire. Brown said after the alarm woke him up, he could see flames on the side of the house and yelled to wake up Cranfill, instructing him to bring the family dog outside.

"I'm just glad the boys got out," said Penni Starry, Brown's mother.

She was at work at Cragun's Resort at the time and rushed back to Riverton once she received word.

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After Brown and Cranfill got outside, Brown said they decided to go back into the burning home to look for the cat and attempt to contain the fire. While walking along the west side of the house, Brown said the glass blew out of the side door. Cranfill, who wore only socks, and Brown walked through the shards to get back inside.

While inside, they looked for the fire extinguisher, unable to find it at first. Cranfill said once they did find it, it worked for just three sprays.

"By the time we got back and searched the rooms for about five minutes, the entire attic was up and we had to get out of there," Brown said. "We couldn't see, we couldn't breathe."

Brown said he left the doors open to allow the cat to get out, although he said she's usually outside and hoped she was Sunday night.

"It took about 10 minutes from just the side of the house to all the way to the top and through," Brown said.

Just after 6 p.m., the house appeared fully engulfed with smoke pouring through the roof. Riverton residents lined the streets of the small city, population 117, watching as firefighters worked to extinguish the flames. Many approached Starry to comfort her as she stood across the street from her burning residence.

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Starry remembered she'd left her computer, which contained homework for her finance classes at St. Cloud Technical and Community College, at her mother's house. Otherwise, everything else she owned was inside, including about $500 worth of textbooks.

The Crosby, Deerwood, and Ironton fire departments responded to the house fire. Deputies from the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office and an ambulance from Cuyuna Regional Medical Center stood by.

As of Sunday night, information on a cause was unavailable.

CHELSEY PERKINS may be reached at 855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .

Firefighters work to extinguish a house fire Easter Sunday in Riverton. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video)
Firefighters work to extinguish a house fire Easter Sunday in Riverton. (Kelly Humphrey, Brainerd Dispatch - Gallery and Video)

Related Topics: RIVERTON
Chelsey Perkins is the community editor of the Brainerd Dispatch. A lakes area native, Perkins joined the Dispatch staff in 2014. She is the Crow Wing County government beat reporter and the producer and primary host of the "Brainerd Dispatch Minute" podcast.
Reach her at chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com or at 218-855-5874 and find @DispatchChelsey on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
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